Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian

Princeton University Press
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Relations between Jews and non-Jews in the Hellenistic-Roman period were marked by suspicion and hate, maintain most studies of that topic. But if such conjectures are true, asks Louis Feldman, how did Jews succeed in winning so many adherents, whether full-fledged proselytes or "sympathizers" who adopted one or more Jewish practices? Systematically evaluating attitudes toward Jews from the time of Alexander the Great to the fifth century A.D., Feldman finds that Judaism elicited strongly positive and not merely unfavorable responses from the non-Jewish population. Jews were a vigorous presence in the ancient world, and Judaism was strengthened substantially by the development of the Talmud. Although Jews in the Diaspora were deeply Hellenized, those who remained in Israel were able to resist the cultural inroads of Hellenism and even to initiate intellectual counterattacks.

Feldman draws on a wide variety of material, from Philo, Josephus, and other Graeco-Jewish writers through the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Church Councils, Church Fathers, and imperial decrees to Talmudic and Midrashic writings and inscriptions and papyri. What emerges is a rich description of a long era to which conceptions of Jewish history as uninterrupted weakness and suffering do not apply.

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About the author

Louis H. Feldman is Professor of Classics at Yeshiva University. Among his works is Josephus and Modern Scholarship (1937-1980).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 14, 1996
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Pages
696
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ISBN
9781400820801
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Louis H. Feldman
Philo's Portrayal of Moses in the Context of Ancient Judaism presents the most comprehensive study of Philo's De Vita Mosis that exists in any language. Feldman, well known for his work on Josephus and ancient Judaism, here paves new ground using rabbinic material with philological precision to illuminate important parallels and differences between Philo's writing on Moses and rabbinic literature. One way in which Hellenistic culture marginalized Judaism was by exposing the apparent defects in Moses' life and character. Philo's De Vita Mosis is a counterattack to these charges and is a vital piece of his attempt to reconcile Judaism and Hellenism. Feldman rigorously examines the text and shows how Philo presents a narrative of Moses's life similar to that of a mythical divine and heroic figure, glorifying his birth, education, and virtues. Feldman demonstrates that Philo is careful to explain in a scientific way those portions of the Bible, particularly miracles, that appear incredible to his skeptical Hellenistic readers. Through Feldman's careful analysis, Moses emerges as unique among ancient lawgivers. Philo's Portrayal of Moses in the Context of Ancient Judaism mirrors the organization of Philo's biography of Moses, which is in two books, the first, in the style of Plutarch, proceeding chronologically, and the second, in the style of Suetonius, arranged topically. Following an introductory chapter, Feldman's study discusses the life of Moses chronologically in the second chapter and examines his virtues topically in the third. Feldman compares the particular features of Philo's portrait of Moses with the way in which Moses is viewed both by Jewish sources in antiquity (including Pseudo-Philo; Josephus; Graeco-Jewish historians, poets, and philosophers; and in the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Samaritan tradition, Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinic tradition) and by non-Jewish sources, notably the Greek and Roman writers who mention him.
Reza Aslan
A fascinating, accessible introduction to Islam from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer

FINALIST FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 

In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. This updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

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Louis H. Feldman
Philo's Portrayal of Moses in the Context of Ancient Judaism presents the most comprehensive study of Philo's De Vita Mosis that exists in any language. Feldman, well known for his work on Josephus and ancient Judaism, here paves new ground using rabbinic material with philological precision to illuminate important parallels and differences between Philo's writing on Moses and rabbinic literature. One way in which Hellenistic culture marginalized Judaism was by exposing the apparent defects in Moses' life and character. Philo's De Vita Mosis is a counterattack to these charges and is a vital piece of his attempt to reconcile Judaism and Hellenism. Feldman rigorously examines the text and shows how Philo presents a narrative of Moses's life similar to that of a mythical divine and heroic figure, glorifying his birth, education, and virtues. Feldman demonstrates that Philo is careful to explain in a scientific way those portions of the Bible, particularly miracles, that appear incredible to his skeptical Hellenistic readers. Through Feldman's careful analysis, Moses emerges as unique among ancient lawgivers. Philo's Portrayal of Moses in the Context of Ancient Judaism mirrors the organization of Philo's biography of Moses, which is in two books, the first, in the style of Plutarch, proceeding chronologically, and the second, in the style of Suetonius, arranged topically. Following an introductory chapter, Feldman's study discusses the life of Moses chronologically in the second chapter and examines his virtues topically in the third. Feldman compares the particular features of Philo's portrait of Moses with the way in which Moses is viewed both by Jewish sources in antiquity (including Pseudo-Philo; Josephus; Graeco-Jewish historians, poets, and philosophers; and in the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Samaritan tradition, Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinic tradition) and by non-Jewish sources, notably the Greek and Roman writers who mention him.
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